Pace of new credit card accounts picks up in 2011

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NEW YORK (AP) — More people are carrying credit cards, after the banking industry opened up lending a bit in 2011.

The number of new cards issued to consumers rose 14 percent in 2011 — with about a quarter of them, or about 10.7 million new accounts, going to people with less-than-stellar credit histories, credit report agency TransUnion says.

This means the subprime consumers still in the market are getting a larger slice of the credit pie than during the depth of the Great Recession.

One factor helping to open up credit is that the rate of late payments fell dramatically in the past few years.

Just 0.78 percent of card holders were late with their payments by 90 days or more during the fourth quarter, TransUnion found, the lowest year-end rate since 1995.